One of the best things about the holiday season is all the good food. Even more special is making that food with loved ones. Most people have very specific foods they make every year at Christmas and most of the foods are longstanding traditions in their family.
My husband just commented the other day that we only have two cookie cutters in our house, a fleur de lis shape and a shark. The shark cookie cutter was a gift from my friend Leighanne in honor of our tradition of collecting sharks’ teeth while vising Amelia Island where her sister has a place.
My husband feels that neither of these shapes are suitable for making Christmas cookies, however. He said one of his favorite childhood memories was making Christmas cookies with his mom and we needed cookie cutters in case our son wants to make cookies with him. Our son is only 4-months old so as yet does not care about cookie making, but maybe next year. In the meantime, Mom and Dad are happy to eat said cookies. My husband found a set at Walmart of 101 cookie cutters so we’re set for cooking making for any occasion!
For some reason, we never really made Christmas cookies when I was a kid. My Great-Aunt Reva always made molasses cookies (or molassey cookies as we called them). Maybe we figured her cookies were so good we didn’t need to make any. We did, however, always make the old-fashioned peanut butter pinwheel candy.
Another Christmas food tradition in our family is cream cheese and olives, a spread used on crackers. Literally, it’s just chopped olives mixed with cream cheese. I think we always made it at Christmas because it’s red and green. I was practically grown before it dawned on me that we could make it any time of year.
Chex mix is another holiday favorite from my childhood.
Cookies, fudge, sausage balls and even a macaroni salad are just a sampling of holiday food traditions my friends said they make every year. Macaroni salad may not be a common holiday food tradition, but it is for my mother-in-law Marcia.
“This recipe sounds more like it should belong on a summer picnic than on a list of holiday traditional foods. Coming from a large family on my mother’s side and it being a given that on Christmas Eve everyone would gather at either the grandparent’s house or my parent’s house (the two largest homes), the question would always be ‘what can I bring?’ Everyone had their favorites of course, but hands down my Aunt Ruth was always asked to bring her macaroni salad. She even gave it a name, Winter Macaroni Salad. It is different from most macaroni salads due to the delicious addition of ham and cheese. As in most older recipes, the ingredients are listed, but the measurements are ‘to taste’ and ‘as much as you like.’ This salad is better if it sits and melds several hours, but I have been known to make it and eat it as soon as I have mixed it up,” Marcia said.
For more holiday recipes, see page A5.
Kitsey Burns Harrison is a reporter for the Yadkin Ripple. Here she share her musings on life, love, food and being a new mom. She can be reached at on Instagram and Twitter @RippleReporterK.